Open SUNY Online Teaching Ambassador 2016 – Nassau Community College : Alison Guest

Alison Guest

Alison Guest

Alison Guest has a B.A. (English Literature) from Leicester University, England and an M.A. (Art History) from the Ohio State University, United States. She currently teaches Art History at Nassau Community College, New York where she is an Assistant Professor.

I am delighted to be nominated by Nassau Community College for Open SUNY Online Teaching Ambassador. I have taught Art History online since 2011. I am excited about the potential of the virtual classroom to provide a flexible and accessible learning environment that can fulfill the needs of each student.

These issues of access and student success are close to my heart. I grew up in England at a time when access to higher education was limited. The criteria determining admission into university were usually pre-determined by factors external to the students innate aptitude for higher study. After graduating from an American university I was inspired by the mission of the community college system to provide access to higher education for all who graduate High School. That revelation remains my deepest inspiration even today. Every time I meet a new class full of eager students from every possible walk of life, I find new energy and resolve to create a learning environment that will provide a quality education. The virtual classroom offers a powerful tool to further those goals of access and excellence, by allowing the student to work at their own pace, on a flexible schedule, while allowing for meaningful interaction with instructor and peers.

I have been offering ”Introduction to Art” as a fully online class for several years and have designed a sequence of Art History Survey classes that I will teach beginning this summer. From my experiences I have seen that the online platform has obvious and significant benefits to non-traditional students whose complicated schedules can be accommodated by the asynchronous virtual classroom. The frequent interactions with peers and instructor help to sustain focus and keep even the most vulnerable students engaged in their efforts to go forward successfully. These characteristics are also valuable in face-to-face classes. When teaching content-intensive General Education classes (like Art History) it is always a challenge for the instructor to stimulate active learning and simultaneously cover the materials required to meet transfer standards. My new goal is to “flip” my classroom. The online environment will be used as a laboratory where students read, write, and interact outside of the classroom. Students will cover the “content’ on their own and/or with their peers/instructor, thus freeing up classroom time to focus on the development of critical and creative thinking skills that lead to success in college and in life. I am excited to move ahead with my work and very honored to be considered for Open SUNY Online Teaching Ambassador!

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